Where has the time gone?

It only seems a couple of weeks ago that we were coming back from the Christmas holiday and now here we are about to enjoy Easter.

Hopefully as the Easter eggs beckon, we will also be able to enjoy some lovely Spring weather, although the recent snow and sleet seem to promise something else.  All in all of course we’ve had a fairly mild Winter, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve not been ready to respond if needed.  It’s a good opportunity to once again thank all those colleagues who have been on hand to help keep the City moving during any bad weather.  The arrival of Spring will also offer me the chance to re-visit some of our public parks to meet again colleagues I last saw during the Autumn and the Winter and to see how the gardens are coming along as they move towards their Summer glory.

It’s certainly been a busy few months from my perspective.  We’ve welcomed a number of new colleagues to the senior team:

  • Euan Couperwhite, Head of Policy, Performance and Resources
  • Helen Shanks, Head of Inclusion
  • Takki Sulaiman, Head of Communication and Promotion
  • Richard Sweetnam, Head of Economic Development

and we have three more arriving over the coming months:

  • Bernadette Oxley, Head of Children’s Social Work and Chief Social Work Officer
  • Head of IT and Transformation
  • Head of Legal and Democratic Services

Further information will follow soon on the appointments to the latter two posts above.

One post remains to be filled – the Director of Corporate Governance.  We’ll start recruitment for this after the holidays.  A big thank you to the many people who have supported the recruitment process to date.  Particular thanks to staff and Trades Union colleagues who have participated in the Assessment Centres.  I’d also like to express my thanks to all our partners who have given freely of their time to help us with these important appointments.  And without this turning into an Oscar acceptance speech, special thanks to the HR colleagues for all the organisation and arrangements they coordinated.  It has been a very professional process that has drawn many complimentary comments from external colleagues.

Looking back, the Oil and Gas Summit represented a significant milestone for the Council.  It’s important that we play our part in supporting the oil and gas industry in the City given the role it plays in our local economy.  Another vote of thanks to those colleagues who helped pull the event together, you’ve set the bar very high for all future summits!

The work on the City Region Deal began in 2014 and continued into the current year.  A whole range of colleagues from both the City Council and Aberdeenshire Council came together to establish jointly what we felt the region needed.  It’s been  fantastic to see the two organisations working together for the benefit of the North East and I was delighted when the Chancellor announced in his Budget that the UK Government is happy to enter into discussion with us on a City Deal.  Again, a big thank you to all those colleagues involved.  We’ve a huge amount of work ahead of us, but for now let’s celebrate getting to this stage.

I must also take the opportunity to thank everyone for the support that’s been given to enable us to meet the conditions of our vehicle operators license.  As you may remember we were called to a Public Hearing with the Traffic Commissioner just before Christmas.  A reconvened Hearing is scheduled for May and I’m confident that we’ll be able to report significant progress.  Again a big thank you to everyone and a particular thanks to Trades Union colleagues for their support.

Work has also continued at a pace on the City Centre Masterplan culminating in the final round of public consultation.  I’m particularly pleased with the diversity of the engagement events organised and I’m grateful to all those colleagues from across the Council who volunteered to support the public engagement activity.  I’d also like to take the opportunity to remind all staff that I am very interested in hearing your views on the implications that delivering the Masterplan will have for us as a staff group.

Another highlight from a very busy three months was the positive report we received from the Care Inspectorate on its recent inspection of our integrated children’s services.  I was particularly pleased to share this with the Council and again I am delighted to recognise that many colleagues played a part in achieving such a positive outcome.  I’d like to express my thanks in particular to Susan Devlin for the leadership she has given the service, and again big thanks to all those staff involved.

So, a busy few months indeed.  I’m looking forward to some time off and I aim to enjoy one final restful holiday before we finally concede to the kids’ request for a puppy.  There’s an options appraisal that needs to be revisited!

If you’re taking time off, I hope you have a good break.  If you’re working, many thanks.

Let’s all hope for some good weather in the next few months.